Holy Innocents’ Episcopal School’s Global-Alliance
Posted: 30 September 2019
- Communication skills
- Appreciation for diversity
- Problem solving
Holy Innocents’ Episcopal School’s Global-Alliance is a ‘think tank’ event taking place over two days involving the whole middle school year. Now in it’s third year the event has been refined each year and re-stylised with different challenges.
Students are taken off time table for the two days to allow them to participate and work in teams of 6-8 encouraging them to work with peers within their year group that they normally wouldn’t have the opportunity to work with.
Students take part in team challenges that put their teamwork and brains to the test. Students are forced to collaborate, think critically, gain a greater understanding of the world around them, research and provide oral presentations all with a STEM / Global competency focus.
The groups are awarded up to six points per challenge, but can earn up to 20 points for their presentation to the world council. It’s up to the groups to work out their strategy – some opt to work quickly through lots of challenges (quantity over quality) whereas some take their time earning maximum points per challenge.
This year we not only had 350 of our own students taking part in the games, we also had students from Round Square Member school Bermuda High School and Ermitage International School of France take part.
A colleague and I met 3 to 4 times over the summer to develop the idea, rules and logistical flow of the game. Then met 1 to 2 times of week to order or make supplies needed, divide up the teams and speak with areas on campus that we might impact to make them aware of what students would be doing on these days.
We tried to create as much as we could to keep costs down. Parents have since donated money to the games to allow for more elaborate set up. We leveraged a lot of what we already had at our disposal.
Combined the idea of Model UN, UNICEF and Problem solving to design and collaborative experience for students to put to use and expand their knowledge of the world around them. Logistically, there are three versions of the game being played simultaneously combating students teams of the same grade level against themselves. The object is to earn as many points as you can through a series of team challenges, academic questions and oral presentations addressing regional issues.
Using a repetitive sequence of tasks students move from one region of the world to the next trying to accumulate the maximum number of points for their teams. Over the two days students take part in the following tasks each round:
Flag Identification: Students have to piece together a puzzle made up of the flags of countries to identify the region of the world.
Academic Questions: Students have to answer questions about the region of the world, leveraging the CIA World Factbook and other content area questions. Each correct answer earns the team two points (8 available points per round).
Team Physical Challenge: Teams are faced with a physical challenge that forces them to work as a team, based on their success, teams earn up to six points for example: “Snakes” where each team forms a line like a snake, with all but the last person in the line blindfolded. Without any verbal communication, the last person must guide the snake towards an object on the ground. The first person must pick up the object and then go to a bucket to drop the object. Once this is completed, the first person removes the blindfold and becomes the eyes at the rear of the snake. The team must pick up four objects to place in a bucket, and each time this is accomplished the first person becomes the eyes of the snake in the rear.
Regional Issue: Teams are presented with a regional issue and must come up with a solution to the crisis that addresses the three sides involved. We created some region issues based on real life crisis effecting multiple countries or groups of people. It was important that the issue had three sides to it. The large focus was to present students with the need to address each country in their solution. Some issues intentionally did not allow for the Global Task force to help everyone, they had to choose.
Presentation/STEAM AID Challenge: two members of the team present their solution to the “World Council” (made of Upper School Model UN Students or Faculty), while the rest of the team are sent to a STEM challenge inspired by provided aid to some type of disaster relief. Each part earned the team points; up to 16 points for presentation and up to six for STEM challenge.
(the video below is from out 2018 game)
As with any multifaceted event, we uncounted a number of challenges along the way.
The logistics of having 350+ students participating and moving around campus was complex and we worked with faculty to leverage two school days and being flexible with students moving around campus or missing classes. We asked for parent to volunteer and help monitor collaborative works spaces, high traffic areas on campus, and assist with the physical challenges.
It was a big ask of the faculty to not only give up two days of instruction, but to also manage various components of the games such as the World Council, Question checkers, Physical Challenge judges or STEAM challenge Judges. We overcame this and got buy-in from the other teachers through a presentation highlighting the impact these games will have on the students by putting them in situations where they are forced to collaborate, communicate, be compassionate, problem solve, compete and have tenacity.
The Games bring everyone on campus working together to make the experience great for the students. Since the first year we played the games, the amount of collaboration among the faculty has dramatically increased and was a kick-starter to many future collaborations.
Students walk away from this experience not only having a greater sense of global issues and familiarity with more countries, but also an understanding that solutions to these issues are not easy. They have to wrestle with fairness and compassion. They learn how to listen to one another and understand the many different perspectives involved with any situation. The students become more tenacious as they work through the challenges, exploring various outcomes and learning through failure. Most importantly, they learn how to collaborate to ultimately achieve a common goal.
The success of this event has allowed for two more versions to be created and ‘The Global Alliance’ is now one of three different games that we run.
- When planning try to think of everything that could happen–you won’t, but that is OK!
- Be flexible, things are going to come up, try to resolve them as best you can. Make a note of it for the next time;
- Document it somehow when it is happening, you won’t be able to see it all so having someone take pictures or video so that you can see all the different parts is valuable; and
- Enjoy it… it is tiring, but so worth it.
I would love to help you give it a try. I will share with you everything that we have created, but also help to make it fit your school—we have had 5 schools in the US play our games on their campuses.
Author: Daniel Forrester, PK3-12 Director of STEAM, Holy Innocents’ Episcopal School